Author: Annie Smiddy
A new bill was recently passed into law that will provide more certainty in contracting and consulting with attorneys for the cannabis industry. While medicinal and recreational use of marijuana is still currently illegal under federal law, California authorized medicinal cannabis in 1996, and adult recreational cannabis use in 2016. The conflict in law has provided a number of obstacles for the cannabis industry. Since existing law requires that a contract “be for a lawful object,” the federal conflict in law has created uncertainty regarding the enforceability of contracts in the cannabis industry. The new law provides that commercial activity relating to medicinal cannabis or adult-use cannabis conducted in compliance with state law, and any applicable local standards and regulations, is a lawful object of a contract, is not contrary to an express policy or provision of law or to good morals, and is not against public policy. In addition, the law increases the availability of attorney-client privilege in the cannabis industry by clarifying that attorney-client privilege protections regarding “legal services rendered in compliance with state or local laws on medicinal cannabis or adult-use cannabis and  confidential communications provided for the purpose of rendering those services” do not fall within the crime/fraud exception to attorney-client privilege. This law is beneficial because it promotes written agreements, and consultation with attorneys who are knowledgeable in cannabis regulatory issues. The law will promote good business practices within the cannabis industry, and will lead to increased compliance with California’s regulations.
See here for the text of AB 1159.